People have been drawn to Fiji since what seems like the beginning of time. Captain William Bligh was the first European to sail through the islands of Fiji in the 17th century, and for a while Fiji was known as Bligh Island. Abel Tasman also visited the islands in an attempt to find the Great Southern Continent in 1643, but the very first inhabitants of Fiji arrived from South East Asia long before the famous captain of the HMS Bounty. Evidence shows, that Fiji was settled before or around 2,000 BC. In the 19th century, the first Europeans came to the islands to settle there permanently and in 1874, the islands came under British control as a colony. Only since 1970 has Fiji been an independent country.
Fiji’s rich cultural heritage is composed of a number of diverse elements that represent the way of life of the indigenous Fijian people who for the past 190 years have made Fiji their home. Today, Fiji has a population by ethnicity of approximately 858,030 mostly made of indigenous Fijians, Indians, Chinese, Europeans and South Pacific Islanders. The indentured labourers was brought to the islands by the British in the 19th century. The three official languages are English, which was introduced by the former British colonial rulers, Bau Fijian, spoken by ethnic Fijians, and Hindustani, the main language spoken by Indo-Fijians.
Fiji is still very much untouched by the outside world, and in many of the islands life has changed very little for centuries. Today, much of the traditional Fijian culture is still intact and the Fijians have managed to keep their old lifestyle and customs. Many Fijians still live in villages, concrete blocks and wooden homes, traditional Fijian housing aren’t that many today. The village chief occupies the most dominant structure, often high peaked and set back from the others, on the village green. People dress in traditional garb; and it’s not just for show; it is their daily wear. An important factor of daily Fijian life is the church; most Fijians are either Methodists, New Methodists, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Assemblies of God, Baptist or Pentecostal.
Fijians are famous for their friendliness. Locals hail visitors on the streets of Nadi and Suva, they invite them to their native villages, and they welcome them to their churches where song and music are the center of attention.
Highlights of the Fijian event calendar are the Hibiscus Festival in Suva & the Friendly North Festival in Labasa (August), the Sugar Festival and the Farmers Carnival in Lautoka (July or September), the Bula Festival in Nadi (July), and the Back to Levuka Festival in October. ‘Vula I Balolo’ – the rising of the sea worms (between October – November).
There are quite a number of recognized sporting events from January to December in Fiji such as, Rugby 7’s/15’s, and the Secondary Schools Deans Trophy, Battle of the Giants (Soccer), Boxing, Cricket, Coca Cola Games (Athletics),Fiji Swims, Game Fishing Tournaments, Hockey, Netball, Volleyball, Rugby League, South Pacific Bowling Carnival in June, Sunny West Bowling Carnival in May, Tennis, the Horse Races, Championship Golf/Surfing, & Hobie Cat Sailing , Yacht Regattas.